A Florida “church leader” and three of his sons were charged in Miami federal court on Wednesday for selling toxic bleach as a fake miracle cure for coronavirus.
The man had taken credit last April for President Trump making the public suggestion at a press conference that injecting disinfectants into the body may cure COVID-19.
According to officials, 62-year-old Mark Grenon and his sons, 34-year-old Jonathan Grenon, 26-year-old Jordan Grenon, and 32-year-old Joseph Grenon, all from Bradenton, Fla., are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States as well as conspiracy to violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
In addition, they are faced with criminal contempt of court related to a civil case that was filed by the federal government earlier this year.
Federal prosecutors charged the four family members for the sale of a product called Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), which they sold through Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, a “religious organization” being operated out of a Bradenton home.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida says the non-religious church was created specifically to avoid government regulation of MMS.
The chemical solution contained sodium chlorite and water. Its makers allegedly told their customers to ingest MMS.
However, the FDA explains that the solution is actually chlorine dioxide, a bleach that is used for industrial water treatment or bleaching textiles, pulp, and paper.
Court order filed yesterday calls for Genesis II Church of Health and Healing to cease immediately, as well as granting FDA authority to inspect facility without notice.
— victoria price (@WFLAVictoria) July 8, 2020
The product the men sold included a two ounce bottle of MMS, or sodium chlorite, as well as a two-ounce bottle of hydrochloric acid, marketed as an “activator.”
The website sold the product as Sacramental Cleansing Water at a price of $15 per bottle. The bottles and their ingredients were called sacraments.
There have been reports of people requiring hospitalizations, developing life-threatening conditions, and dying after drinking MMS.
Before marketing MMS as a cure for COVID-19, the Grenons promoted it as a “miracle cure” for other serious diseases and disorders, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS.
Mark Grenon, the co-founder of Genesis, has repeatedly acknowledged that Genesis “has nothing to do with religion,” and that he founded Genesis to “legalize the use of MMS” and avoid “going [ ] to jail.”
London’s The Guardian reports that Grenon wrote a letter to President Trump last April, saying his product was a detox that could rid the body of coronavirus.
The president then stated at an April 23 press briefing that researchers were examining the effects of disinfectants on the virus and asked if they could be injected into people, adding that the virus “does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
Reminder: Lysol disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as directed and in line with usage guidelines pic.twitter.com/yPVhvINxbU
— Lysol (@Lysol) April 24, 2020
“The bottom line: Sodium chlorite products are dangerous, and you and your family should not use them,” the FDA warned.
However, prosecutors say the family “willfully violated these court orders” and that they even sent letters to the judge, threatening violence.
Authorities raided the Bradenton church Wednesday. There, they discovered 52 gallons of muriatic acid, 22 gallons of the finished Miracle Mineral Solution, and 8,300 pounds of sodium chlorite.
“We continue to protect the public from criminal conduct that takes advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic,” U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan said in a statement. “Not only is this MMS product toxic, but its distribution and use may prevent those who are sick from receiving the legitimate health care they need.”
Catherine Hermsen, assistant commissioner of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, called the product’s false claims “unacceptable.”
“The Genesis II Church of Health and Healing has actively and deliberately placed consumers at risk with their fraudulent Miracle Mineral Solution, and Americans expect and deserve medical treatments that have been scientifically proven to be safe and effective,” Hermshen said.